Dear First Pres,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.

I referred to this Psalm on Sunday as we focused on the fact that God is our comforter. But over the last few days, the Lord seems to be continuing to bring it to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps it’s because there continues to be plenty of trouble in our world and in the life of our congregation. You know the list: fires, violence, pandemic, hurricanes, earthquakes, war, cancer, disease, grief, mental illness, death - to name a few. There has been trouble, and there is trouble.

Of course, that’s not all there is. There are celebrations, wins, new jobs, new babies, new believers, generosity and more. If you’re like me, each week is a mysterious confluence of both grief and celebration, troubles and victories. Psalm 46:4 says, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” This is incredibly good news for God’s people. The day will come in Christ when grief and troubles are wiped away. Hallelujah! But for now, that river of gladness flows together with the river of troubles. So, we live in the confluence.

Still, we say, “Hallelujah!” Because it’s that river of gladness, flowing through our troubled lives, that gives us joy and peace and comfort in the midst of the trouble.

What is one thing you’re celebrating today?
What is one thing you’re grieving?

As I said on Sunday, Psalm 46 reminds us that God’s presence doesn’t take away the troubles. The psalm speaks of the earth giving way, the mountains falling into the sea, sea storms, earthquakes, nations in uproar, and earthly kingdoms falling - all things that seem very relevant to our world today. Yet, in the midst of that, God’s people can be free of fear because “the Lord Almighty is with us” (Psalm 46:7,11). We can “Be still,” because we know that God will be exalted among the nations (Psalm 46:10).

So, in the midst of the confluence of grief and celebration, I pray you will know the powerful comfort of God’s presence with you. He is “our refuge and strength.” When “He lifts His voice, the earth melts.” “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.” Perhaps today you’re feeling more the delight of celebration, or you may be feeling more the pain of loss. Either way, may you remember this all-important truth: God is with you.

Pastor Jeremy